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The Role of Social Media in Burlesque

These days, it’s a necessary evil. 

I remember when I first got Facebook in 2006, right when it first opened up to all college students. I was a communications major. My friends and I were a wild bunch (still are, even with our spouses and kids and jobs), and of course I used Facebook to document our shenanigans! But as websites like FB, Insta, and Twitter grew, I started doing social media management professionally for local legal aid organizations. 

With that being said, I’m now approaching 33 years old (my Jesus year!!) and to say I’m sick of social media would be an understatement. I’m sick of it personally, and I’m sick of it professionally. The constant scrolling puts my brain in a stupor. While I’m blessed to know some amazing, creative, and talented people, it gets overwhelming to be blasted in the face with so much awesomeness every fucking day. Stop being so fucking awesome! I’ve recorded a tiny bit of my Instagram timeline, which you can see above. Nothing but awesomeness, 24/7. 

Anyway, at its worst, social media makes me want to compare myself to others. It can be a real self-esteem minefield if you’re not careful.

But tt doesn’t take a professional communications background to know that any viable business, small or large, can benefit from social media. And burlesque is no different! That’s what made me fall in love with the business side of burlesque – I love everyone’s hustle and drive, and it’s evident when you see how social-media-savvy performers are actively using their platforms. 

I’m not a social media guru by any means. None whatsoever! I am barely scratching 1.4K on Instagram, and I love my following - they are supportive and nice, and I never get dick pics or debauchery in my DMs (say that five times fast). But I still try to take social media seriously, out of respect for burlesque as an industry and out of respect for the producers who work really hard to put on these shows – gotta get Butts in Seats.

Here are my own personal burlesque social media “policies”, for my own sanity:

Always promote shows: I try to do a little graphic once a month with my pic and all my shows listed, which is pretty common. I also set the flyers for my next two shows as the cover photo and the highlighted wall photo on my profile page.

Never obsessively track my followers or likes: Or at least I try not to - it’s tempting sometimes to try and aggressively build my following. But let’s be real: that shit is exhausting! And it takes hard work. I’m fine with growing my following organically, if that makes any sense. If they come, they come! If not, meh. And that leads me to…

Always use hashtags. This is an easy way to organically grow my following without doing some kind of snazzy campaign. I keep a steady rotation of favorites, like “#burlesque” (duh), #blackburlesque (double duh), #rollergirl (hell yea) and others, and I use them to tap into little sub-communities of users on Instagram who may be interested in what I do.

Moderate my content: This is a hard rule, and I definitely might change it in the future. But I try to consistently post content from actual shows, and I keep my personal life all on a completely different page. I try to post only professional shots, dance videos, backstage selfies, cast photos, etc. Many of my fave Insta profiles are nothing like this, though.

Follow inspirational people: Meaning I follow the performers who inspire me! I try to break down why it is I love these specific performer profiles more than others – this is helpful bc it may help me break down my own social media brand and persona. 

Include calls to action: I try not to post content just to post it, for no reason at all. “Bebe Bardot is a Business,” I tell myself. And business is money! So I try to include a “call to action” in every post. I’m bad at it sometimes. Here’s a list that I compiled of easy af go-to calls-to-action: “come to my show”; “click link in bio for schedule”; “tag a friend”; “like if you agree”; “link in bio for full vid”; “Should I wear XYZ to ABC show?”; “Come see me tonight”, and so much more. Sometimes I go to popular stripper pages for more ideas on things to say to get people to come to shows.

Save everything that inspires me to Collections: This is actually my favorite feature. I use Instagram like some people use Pinterest, and I have collections of saved posts in groups like “Choreo Inspo,” “Costume Inspo,” “Sparkle Porn,” “Beads & Appliques,” “Curtain Call Outfits,” “Pinup Poses”, and so much more. When I am feeling drained of inspiration, this is my “gas station” to refuel myself with creativity.

And there’s a lot more too, but I don’t wanna make this too long. I will definitely be active on social media for the foreseeable future. There’s just too much information that I can’t miss, like casting calls, festival announcements, costume inspo, and so much more. But I definitely will be taking breaks as well! I have no issues with deactivating for a few days to clear my head and get some space.

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